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Institute for Public Sector Accounting Research (IPSAR)

An introduction to the Business School's Institute of Public Sector Accounting Research (IPSAR), including its list of members, past conferences and current research.


  • Professor Irvine Lapsley (Director)
  • Dr Iris Bosa, Lecturer in Accounting
  • Tom Brown, Lecturer in Accounting
  • Alison Cumming, Scottish Government
  • Elisa Henderson, Teaching Fellow
  • Dr. Vicky Lambert, Lecturer in Accounting (Dundee)

International Associates

  • Professor Michela Arnaboldi, Politecnico di Milano
  • Professor Dana Forgione, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Professor James Guthrie, Sydney University
  • Dr Nathalie Halgand, Nantes University Business School
  • Professor Marc Jegers, Vrije University, Brussels
  • Professor Åge Johnsen, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

Associate Members

  • Professor Richard Kerley (QMU)
  • Professor Kath Melia (HSS)
  • Professor Arthur Midwinter
  • Claudia Pagliari (Medical School)
  • Professor Jill Schofield, University of York

Associate Research Fellow

  • Dr Juan Du (Mondelez International)


IPSAR was established in 1987 at the University of Stirling and in 1991 it transferred to the University of Edinburgh. Initially, IPSAR was funded by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, the Public Finance Foundation, the Scottish Chartered Accountants Trust for Education and Wang UK . Subsequently it has attracted external funding from the ESRC , Leverhulme, Nuffield, ICAS , CIPFA , CIMA , EU and government departments.

Mission statement of IPSAR

To identify, develop and promulgate principles and practices for best accounting in the public sector.


The director of IPSAR is Professor Irvine Lapsley.


IPSAR is involved in 3 conference activities:

1. The New Public Sector (NPS) Seminar

Themes for recent NPS seminars have been: Innovations in Public Services (2015); Modernising the State (2014); The State, The Arts & Popular Culture (2013); Strategic Thinking in Public Services (2012); Accountants in the Risk Society (2011); Management Consultants and Public Sector Transformation (2010); Government Budgeting in the Global Recession (2009). This event has an international participation and in recent years has attracted participants from Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, Ireland and the UK.

The 2016 seminar will be held on 3rd and 4th November at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and the theme will be "Transparency and Trust in Public Services". The full call for papers can be accessed using the link below. General enquiries can be made by emailing

View the Call for Papers for the 2016 Public Sector Seminar

2. The EIASM Public Sector Conference

The Director of IPSAR is Chair of the Scientific Committee of the EIASM Public Sector Conference. This biennial conference will next be held at the Instituto Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, 6-8 September 2016. View the call for papers on the EIASM website. The 2014 conference was held at the University of Edinburgh Business School in September 2014 and was co-chaired by Irvine Lapsley and Jan van Helden.  Keynote speakers were Nils Brunsson (Uppsala), Christopher Hood (Oxford) and Christopher Pollitt (Leuven).  Previous conferences have been held in Milan (2012) co-chairs Michela Arnaboldi and Ileana Steccolini, Copenhagen (2010) co-chair Peter Skærbæk, Amsterdam (2008) co-chairs, Tom Groot, Jan Van Helden, Henk ter Bogt, Tjerk Budding and Irvine Lapsley.

3. The EIASM Third Sector Research Workshop

In June 2015, the biennial 10t Workshop "On the Challenges of Managing the Third Sector" will be held at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and will be co-chaired by Bernd Helmig, Marc Jegers and Irvine Lapsley. More information can be found by visiting the EIASM website. Previous workshops have been held in Brussels (2013), Galway (2011), Nantes (2009), Venice (2007), Belfast (2005) and Fribourg (2003). The best papers presented at each workshop were selected to be submitted for a special issue of an academic journal in the field of nonprofit research or general management. A special issue of Public Management Review based on the 2013 workshop has been published (Volume 15, Issue 7). Previous special issues were:

JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I. (eds.), Accountability in non-profit organisations. Special Issue of Financial Accountability and Management, 14,3,1998.
JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I. (eds.), Accounting and management in the third sector. Special Issue of Financial Accountability and Management 17,1,2001.
JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I. (eds.), The 21st century challenge: managing charitable entities as business enterprises. Special issue of Financial Accountability and Management 19,3,2003.
HELMIG B., JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I., TAYLOR R. (eds.), Managing nonprofit organizations. Special issue of Voluntas - International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 15,2,2004.
HELMIG B., HYNDMAN N., JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I. (eds.), On the challenges of managing the third sector. Special issue of Zeitschrift Offentliche und gemeinwirtschaftliche Unternehmen (Journal for Public and Nonprofit Services), Special Issue 34, 2006.
HELMIG B., JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I., PANOZZO F. (eds.), Special Issue on Charities: The Recurring Questions, Special Issue of Financial Accountability & Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, 2009.
ANGELÉ-HALGAND N., HELMIG B., JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I., (eds.), on Management Focus: Managing Non-Profit Organizations, special issue of European Management Journal 28 (6), 401-490, 2010.
HELMIG B., JEGERS M., LAPSLEY I., ROBBINS G., (eds.) on Third Sector Challenges, special issue of Public Management Review 15 (7) 2013

Current research

The major focus of IPSAR's research is on accounting within New Public Management reforms. It has conducted a major international study of governmental accounting with colleagues from the UK, Norway and New Zealand, which was sponsored by ESRC and CIMA . IPSAR members have also conducted externally funded research on performance measurement in health care which was sponsored by the British Academy. Research has also been undertaken on primary health care (Iris Bosa) and on the work of the National Audit Office (Tom Brown). Research has also been undertaken on the Audit Society and on capital accounting in local government by the Director with Professor Arnaboldi (Milan), and with the support of the British Accounting Association.  Professor Arnaboldi and the Director have also undertaken research on the transfer of ideas from the private to the public sector, specifically on risk management.  This research was sponsored by CIMA .

Research Journal

The leading international research journal in public sector accounting, Financial Accountability and Management (FAM), is now in its 31st volume and is edited in IPSAR. FAM, which was established in 1985, is sponsored by The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

More details available from the journals page, or visit the Wiley Online Library.